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Speeding through life, one garbage can at a time

Thrills and spills aside, motorbike still was a lot of fun

Earlene Campbell
Earlene Campbell

The advantage of our 1957 high school graduates meeting annually is, we “seem” to age more gracefully. But this year, the scariest thing yet was when I realized, as I was visiting with one of my classmates, I was listening to my 90-year-old grandmother’s clone!

Whether the year has been unkind to us, resulting in drastic changes, or whether our changes are subtler, the fact remains — we all are old! If we haven’t turned 80 yet, we will before the year is out.

When I used to hear aging people say, “The older you get, the faster time flies,” I thought it was just a cliché — like “Yeah, yeah, yeah, time couldn’t possibly fly any faster than it does now.” Now, every time I turn around, I’m refilling my weekly pill box. And just 52 fills later, I’m blowing out one more birthday candle.

Speaking of speeding through life, I just took my driver’s test, and I’m good to go for four more years. Renewing my license brought up thoughts of the day in 1984 when son Brad got his first license. He was one happy boy as he spent the entire day tooling around Princeton on my Honda Elite. He came home that evening sporting a sunburn and bugs in his teeth.

Brad had his first lesson in motor vehicle safety the next summer as he took my motorbike for a shortcut through the car wash on Main Street and straight into a wooden fence across the alley. A trip to the emergency room, a day in the hospital, a few days to recuperate, and he was good as new — once we paid off having the fence mended.

Yes, there were hazards

I, too, experienced the hazards of driving motor bikes. Using caution is no guarantee accidents won’t happen.

Slowly exiting a parking lot, via a pea-gravel-coated slope leading onto an alley, in a flash I found myself lying on the parking lot. The running board had run up the inside of my left leg, bruising it from ankle to knee, and the blacktop scraped my right arm and hand.

While I was lying on the ground evaluating the damage, two young boys came out of the store.

“Oh my gosh! We need to see if she needs help!” one said.

“Come on, we gotta go!” the other said.

“No. Wait. We need to see if she needs help. Ma’am, are you all right?”

I answered, “Yes, thank you for asking.”

I shook myself off, picked the bike up, hopped on, and headed home to dress my wounds.

After my retirement, I acquired a part-time job, and still used my Honda for transportation. Heading back after lunch one day, I spied a tipped-over garbage can lying in the middle of the right-hand lane on Thompson Street.

Logic said it would be much easier for me to grab the open top of the can and toss it onto the grass, than it would be for someone in a car to have to stop and get out, or possibly hit it.

I pulled the bike up and, still sitting on the seat with my feet planted on the road, I grabbed the can with my right hand, and attempted to throw it, not anticipating how heavy they are!

Lying in the middle of Thompson, I found myself again evaluating the bodily harm done.

With the exception of a few skin scrapes, I appeared to be all right — until I lifted my left hand. All fingers were pointing toward heaven except the end bone of my ring finger. That sucker was pointing south.

First stop after moving the garbage can out of the way and righting my bike was my favorite doctor’s office. A metal splint and four weeks later, that finger was straightened out and almost good as new.

I loved the free feeling of riding my motorbike around town and not being cooped up by steel, but those class reunions brought home the realization that old bones don’t heal so well or fast.

So, I gave up motorbiking and, with no guarantees, I now travel encased in metal — with sunroof and windows wide open.

Be safe, and don’t forget to F-R-O-G.

Note to readers: Earlene Campbell lives by the FROG motto — Fully Rely On God. She lives in Princeton and can be reached at

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